Technically, the adventure began a month and a half ago, but I haven’t found the time to sit down and write about it, so here we go!
First things first- I bought a website! It has a long way to go and I don’t know the first thing about web design or anything like that, but I was grouse grinding on a beautiful August day and had the bright idea to take my usual travel blog one step further and create my own website- I figured I was going to be galavanting around doing a lot of great stuff, and whoever wants to keep up with me can do so here. And Yogi on the Road is such a rad name and kind of sums up my life.
So introducing… Yogi on the Road. Welcome!
Where to begin! The past seven weeks have been so good. I started my adventures in the Philippines which was awesome- I flew with Philippine Airlines so I had a stopover in Manila, and instead of staying for 12 hours I stayed for two weeks. I flew into Manila (after a three-hour flight delay, a cry, and an uncomfortable nap on the airport floor in Vancouver), which was humid, dirty, and smelly. Exactly what I expected. I met some Canadian boys at the hostel (we are everywhere!) and spent the day with them, and booked a flight to the tropical island of Boracay for the next day. The Philippines consists of over 7,100 islands, so you have to fly everywhere- it significantly increases your budget and I was trying to travel like a backpacker so it was tough, but you don’t have much of a choice! And the flights aren’t expensive, maximum $100 I paid, but it adds up. I got to the airport early and was bumped onto an earlier flight that was leaving right away. Fabulous. I arrived on Boracay to a beautiful afternoon and wandered around looking for affordable accommodation. I couldn’t find any, so I settled on a hotel room that was about double what I had planned to pay but it was literally steps away from the three-kilometer white sandy beach, and who can put a price on that. There is one long, main strip running parallel to the beach on Boracay, and it’s divided into three sections, aptly named section one, two, and three. There are bars and restaurants and beach massages and vendors and hair-braiders and travel agents and tattoo shops and everything you can expect on a touristy island lining the strip. And touristy it is- it seemed like a big holiday destination for other asian countries. There are lots of resorts and everything is tourist-priced. It is, however, stunningly beautiful, and you can do whatever you want! I met some Canadian girls on a pub crawl my first night on the island and we were immediately new friends. We spent a few days on the island eating delicious food, smoking hookah on the beach, drinking cocktails, and hanging out- tropical island living at its finest. We made a friend named Pat who sailed, so one day the four of us along with a crew of locals sailed over to another small island and spent the day in the little local village of Napan. We hit up the market for a feast of meat and headed to the home
of one of the locals to eat. It seems like typical Filipino cuisine is meat and rice. I didn’t see a single vegetable for most of my time there, although the mangos and pineapples are plentiful and cheap! There were some kids at the house that were so intrigued by our white skin- in fact, almost everyone in the village stopped by at some point during the day to check us out. We were definitely the talk of the town! After the biggest feast of chicken, pork, tuna and rice, we went on a little hike up a mountain to the most spectacular birds-eye view of the village and the island, with Boracay in the distance. You feel so far away from home when you are overlooking the lushest, greenest tropics as far as the eye can see. We worked up a sweat on our hike so decided to go back to the boat so we could swim and snorkel, but our tuk-tuk got a flat tire so we decided to walk, and stopped at a bar for happy hour on the way, where we got checked out by more locals and treated our new friends to some brews. It was such a great travel day, spending time with locals is so special and seeing into their life and the way they live is so eye-opening and beautiful and genuine. It’s such a different life to our lives in North America, and after squatting over a hole in the ground and pouring water down it to flush, you are so immensely grateful and humbled by the luxuries of life at home.
My Canadian friends had met another local they’d gone island-hopping with earlier in the week who had invited them to come stay on his island, a small island called Tablas. We spent another sunshiney day in Boracay and then decided to take him up on his offer. The three of us and Zandro, our guide, took a hectic ferry ride over to the island. It was a small ferry that should have taken two hours, but due to crazy weather and a large quantity of rice on board, it took almost four. People were getting seasick everywhere and we thought the journey would never end, but finally we arrived, in the rain, to the island of Tablas. We put on some ponchos and hopped on motorbikes and drove to the village of Santa Maria, where we would be staying. The drive was beautiful, even in the rain! There is something about cruising on a motorbike and taking everything in, the sights and the smells and the newness of it all, that fills your heart right up. Rice fields and goats and chickens and palm forests and broken english, all blending together in one solid ride. We arrived in Santa Maria and checked into our accommodation, which was just a room with beds and a bathroom with no running water, which was just around the corner from Zandro’s house where he and his family would prepare our meals for us and we would eat. Our first meal was a full chicken each- the traditional way to welcome visitors. It was probably the best chicken I have ever had, raised in the grass outside and just killed that morning (sorry vegetarians). Most of the food we were served was pretty good, with the exception of pigs ear… yes. The actual ear. Good on them to not be wasteful but it still looked like an actual ear. Yuck. We spent two nights on Tablas and on our first day we motorbiked to the most beautiful waterfall… there was nobody there but us and we spent the day sunning and swimming and taking tons of photos. Such a great day. On our way home we got caught in an absolutely insane torrential downpour so were all soaked to the bone by the time we got home… when it rains, it pours, but it was so fun and funny and such a regular part of daily life there, we were so glad to have the experience. It’s a good thing they have unlimited rice to dry out your wet phones.
We left Tablas and hopped on a plane to Cebu, a smaller and less hectic version of Manila. We spent a couple of days there, spending way too much time in an Irish pub and getting the creepiest $6.00 ‘massages,’ and then headed to a small village called Oslob where we were going to- wait for it- swim with whale sharks! We splurged on a beautiful resort, mostly because there was no other accommodation in town but also because it was so cheap- $35/each for our room. The resort had two infinity pools, which is when the end of the pool looks like it connects to the ocean and it’s just blue water for days. So beautiful! We spent a lot of time in the pools, treating ourselves to delicious food and of course cocktails. The girls were leaving in a couple of days, so it was a glorious last day in paradise. When the bill came the next day, it was not so glorious but again, you can’t put a price on fun!
Swimming with the whale sharks was so amazing. A trip highlight, and maybe even a life highlight! There was a lot of them, at least six that were swimming around and they are get so close to you! You aren’t supposed to touch them but sometimes they are literally in your way and you can’t help it. Such beautiful, majestic, gentle creatures. It was just us three Canadians and one other guy from our resort, and it felt like we were in the water for hours… such a
good way to start the day! After Oslob, we headed back to Cebu and had one last night in the Irish pub before my Canadian lovelies headed home. It was so great to meet them and spend time with them, I often travel alone and always, always meet beautiful amazing people to travel with. The universe definitely has my back and gives me the people I need in my life! I decided to head to an island called Bantayan for a few days on my own before my flight to Sydney. I arrived in Bantayan and wouldn’t you know, met the loveliest Filipino boy as soon as I got off the ferry. He took me around the island for a couple days, showed me some beautiful spots and we spent the nights singing karaoke with his friends… such a good experience. We also sang karaoke one night in Tablas, it seems like people of the Philippines are fond of singing their hearts out. I had such a nice time in Bantayan and was sad to leave, but Sydney and friend time were calling! I had to spend one night in Cebu before my flight back to Manila in the morning and it happened to be Saturday night and I happened to meet some nice girls in the hostel and it happened to be one of their birthdays so I ended up sleeping in and missing my flight in the morning! Disaster. I have never missed a flight before and headed to the airport to see what I could do- I had to get back to Manila and catch my connecting flight to Australia. Long story short, all of the flights to Manila were fully booked, I cried (again), but of course, as it always does, everything worked out and I got to Manila on time. Lots of lessons learned that day though, and lots of gratitude to kind strangers.
And that is it for the Philippines! I have been in Sydney for a month already but will have to update you about that at a later date. Missing you lovelies at home.xo